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Publisher's Summary

The founder of the international Transition Towns movement asks why true creative, positive thinking is in decline, asserts that it's more important now than ever, and suggests ways our communities can revive and reclaim it.

In these times of deep division and deeper despair, if there is a consensus about anything in the world, it is that the future is going to be awful. There is an epidemic of loneliness, an epidemic of anxiety, a mental health crisis of vast proportions, especially among young people. There’s a rise in extremist movements and governments. Catastrophic climate change. Biodiversity loss. Food insecurity. The fracturing of ecosystems and communities beyond, it seems, repair. The future - to say nothing of the present - looks grim. 

But as Transition movement cofounder Rob Hopkins tells us, there is plenty of evidence that things can change, and cultures can change, rapidly, dramatically, and unexpectedly - for the better. He has seen it happen around the world and in his own town of Totnes, England, where the community is becoming its own housing developer, energy company, enterprise incubator, and local food network - with cascading benefits to the community that extend far beyond the projects themselves. 

We do have the capability to effect dramatic change, Hopkins argues, but we’re failing because we’ve largely allowed our most critical tool to languish: human imagination. As defined by social reformer John Dewey, imagination is the ability to look at things as if they could be otherwise. The ability, that is, to ask What if? And if there was ever a time when we needed that ability, it is now.

From What Is to What If is a call to action to reclaim and unleash our collective imagination, told through the stories of individuals and communities around the world who are doing it now, as we speak, and witnessing often rapid and dramatic change for the better.

©2019 Rob Hopkins (P)2019 Chelsea Green Publishing

Critic Reviews

“Rob Hopkins has long been a leader in imagining how we could remake our societies for the benefit of nature and humankind. His new book is a powerful call to imagine a better world. It should be widely read and appreciated.” (Christiana Figueres, former Executive Secretary, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change; lead negotiator, Paris Climate Agreement)

What listeners say about From What Is to What If

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A Source of Hope from Within

A much-needed antidote to the pervasive pessimism of so much of today’s world: the wonder of imagination! From its title through the afterword, this book inspires and uplifts with hopefulness made possible by reminding us to envision the future, our futures, to glimpse the flickers of possibility in our imaginations, then expand those flickers into lasting flames of hope that can power us to reshape our realities and so our world by focusing our consistent thoughts and actions on their achievement, having witnessed their possibilities and the potential for a better world for all. Thank you, Mr. Hopkins.

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The book I didn’t know I needed

This book is wildly hopeful and inspiring and yet it never made me roll my eyes as pie in sky thinking. It has changed my outlook on the future and how to go about effectuating change. A truly holistic approach to a bright future.

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Amazing 10/10 Inspirational

Can't recommend this enough, especially for creatives, visionaries, thinkers, dreamers, and volunteers. I also recommend his podcast.

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Incredible insights and review! Brilliant!!

I delighted when I began listening to this book.
Even though I keep up with some of the quoted sources and resources MikeEven though I keep up with some of the quoted sources and resources like sir Kenneth Robinson I was very delighted when I realized the book was long enough to be more enriched than I had even imagined The insights and examples in this audiobook are invaluable for reinventing and envisioning and then creating (co creating) a new more sustainable society and civilization...

The distionctions listed between creativity and innovation and the need for both was made clear in many colorful ways.

Please write and narrate more of these..I follow hundred and hundreds of new audiobooks every few months and this is at the top. it gave me some new directions that inspired and reignited my own passion to really sue these tools and examples to reform the bonds of community and sustainable yet practical community ..

Bravo!!

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  • Milkmoon Mama
  • 03-02-20

What if everyone read this book...?

One of the most inspiring and important books I’ve read in a long time. A book I want to leave on park benches and buses, to give to every local school, politician, business and organisation. The hopeful, positive story we all really, really need right now.
I am filled with possibilities, and endless what if questions.
Thank you, Rob Hopkins for lighting my spark again.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-11-22

Inspiring and exciting

Fabulous, inspiring book which helps you feel excited, energised and hopeful about the future instead of despairing.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-20-22

Inspirational

Lovingly narrated by the author.
Gives valuable, viable, precious visions of a possible future. An alternative narrative where anything might be possible.
We need change and this work gives a clear framework on how to make that happen.
Thanks Rob X

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  • Catherine Hearne
  • 05-12-22

inspiring, hopefull, and fresreshingly optimistic!

having absorbed many books on the subject of the climate crisis. and our uncertain future it is very nice to find a book that gives a positive vision of the changes coming instead of doom and gloom! a must read. one of my favourites and i am sure i will enjoy it a few times.

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  • Anna Murray
  • 01-27-22

Powerful and Passionate

Uplifting, powerful … and makes it all feel possible. I feel very glad to have read this book and feel less pessimistic about the future!

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  • KK
  • 11-18-21

Highly Recommended

This book is full of ideas. It's a powerful argument for the importance of imagination.
I recommend it to anyone, especially those concerned about their community and the world.
There are so many exciting and encouraging ideas. It will help you to feel hopeful and empowered instead of anxious and overwhelmed by the climate breakdown and current political forces.
Everyone should read it!

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  • Andrew C.
  • 11-01-21

All of the COP 26 attendees need to read this book

A great book that everyone should read but especially all of the COP 26 attendees need to read this book to change things for the better. the time to change is now. just think What If.......

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  • amy hobson
  • 10-08-21

Ask yourself... what if

Brilliant! Especially reading as a Mother and worrying about how to help the future generations.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-11-21

Everybody should hear this

This is hopeful and inspiring....we should all listen to this and take note. What if?

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-04-21

It changes you!

I wish this will become mandatory in schools. A book that gives you hope when you had lost it. Inserts confidence and credibility to the power of imagination. It changes the table on all those “smart” politicians and business leaders that thought us to become “realistic” and ridiculed anything imaginative. Read. Get inspired. Do something!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-02-20

Revolutionary book

Rob Hopkins is a compassionate narrator of his own story. This book was incredible, full of examples of how revolutions start. I didn’t know the world was so rich, thank you Rob for your research. Changing what is to what if changed my life. I highly recommend this book for artists, writers, visionaries and especially for those that feel they have nothing to offer. The world is at your finger tips!

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  • Linda M. Cockburn
  • 08-09-20

Cried for joy most of the way through it.

a wonderful look at not just what if, but what's happening now. a glorious hint at who we could be if only we tried.